Ooni harps on correlation between culture, economic growth
His Majesty, Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, has said the survival of the African peoples rests heavily on the sustainability of traditional culture. He stressed that the governments and the peoples must collectively utilize culture, as a way to expedite productive economic advancement.
The renowned monarch spoke at his palace during the celebration of the yearly Aje Festival (deity of wealth) at Ile-Ife, Osun state. He noted that Nigeria is abundantly blessed with cultural tourism potential that is capable of turning the country to a viable economic hub. He averred that the county’s cultural potential should be productively showcased, as culture does not affect religion, saying culture does not even have a specific religion.
According to him, “Christians or Muslims, we all need to respect our cultural heritage. In 2017, we prayed during Aje Festival and we centred our prayers on the economic recession, and within one week, we surprisingly experienced dollar crash from about #480 to #350. We have prayed and very soon, the economy will improve tremendously.
“Aje is the spirit of market profitability. That is why the festival is very important to all humanity, because nobody can survive without it. If we do business, profit is expected. If you work, you expect stipends at the end of the month. So, that is simply ‘aje’.”
The Ooni urged youths to be industrious so as to fulfill their destiny and not to take the shortcut to success. He also implored youths to be agents of peace and refuse to engage in brigandage, as election period was drawing near. He also prayed for the peace and progress of Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria, Africa and the rest of the world.
“Don’t let politicians use you for thuggery or election violence as you too can be in their positions if you discover yourself and remain focused and full of determination,” he advised the youths. “As we are gathered here today to celebrate Aje, the festival of wealth, the almighty Olodumare will answer our prayers!”
In her speech, Iyalaje of Apapa, Lagos and Chief Promoter of 2018 Aje Festival, Princess Toyin Kolade, said that Yoruba culture is too important and rich to be ignored if we are to be seen as a serious people, who care for the future.
According to her, Aje is a festival of wealth that impacts on all nooks and crannies of the world from its root at Ejigbomekun market, the world’s oldest market located at Ile-Ife, the cradle of Yoruba race. She called on Nigerians to value their cultural heritage, rather than ignoring it in favour of foreign cultures and religions.
Veteran Yoruba actress, Mrs. Idowu Philips, popularly called ‘Mama Rainbow,’ who led other Nollywood stars, including Saheed Balogun, in her short speech eulogised Ooni Ogunwusi for his unprecedented strides, especially in peacemaking and cultural tourism revolution. She urged other traditional rulers in Yorubaland to emulate the Ooni.